Gizmodo’s Jason Chen retains Criminal Defense attorney

Wed, Apr 28, 2010

Legal, News is reporting that Gizmodo editor Jason Chen recently hired Thomas Nolan Jr. of the Palo Alto firmĀ Nolan, Amstrong & Barton to advise and potentially defend him in light of the ongoing police investigation stemming from Gawker’s purchase of an iPhone prototype for $5,000.

Last Monday, video of Chen showcasing the device and its features generated record setting traffic for Gizmodo and garnered worldwide attention for the gadget site. But the purchase of a device that many argue was obviously stolen prompted a criminal investigation into the matter which soon resulted in authorities obtaining a warrant to break into and search Chen’s California home where they subsequently seized Chen’s computers and a slew of other equipment.

Regarding the investigation, Nolan Jr. said on Tuesday that he was unsure if Chen is “the target of the criminal probe or whether they’re trying to get information about sources from him.”

Regarding the issuance of the warrant itself (and yes, this has been explained to death) if the purpose of the warrant was to obtain information about the source of the iPhone, then the warrant is illegal. But if the warrant was issued pursuant to an investigation of a felony, as is the case here, then the warrant is valid.

In any event, this move by Chen indicates that he’s finally realizing the gravity of Gawker’s actions, which sadly for him, were greenlit by Gaby Darbyshire, Gizmodo’s COO who also serves as their legal counsel. And oh yeah, did we mention that her legal experience is limited to environmental law and that her law degree is from England? Shy may very well be brilliant, but if you’re here in the US, she doesn’t seem like the ideal person to be taking legal advice from when the potential consequences of an action are so grave.


, ,

2 Comments For This Post

  1. David Says:

    As a lawyer (and former white collar criminal defense attorney), the manner in which Gizmodo reported on the matter screamed pretty loudly that they weren’t getting legal advice. Or at least good legal advice. While I don’t purport to know California law on the matter, there is a great deal of wiggle room in defending against these sorts of criminal charges if the property was legitimately lost and then recovered by a third party. (You can see from the stories the various attempts to set up this defense.) But, you don’t pay $5,000 for a fake (unless you’ve been well-convinced it isn’t), and anyone in Gizmodo’s position had to know who the real owner was and that there was no legitimate reason for this device to be in the wild. Still, it will be fascinating to watch it unfold.

    FYI — I think Apple needs to stop being the bully and let this drop. Their employee screwed up. Apple is responsible for that. Someone who happens to get a product because of an Apple screw up isn’t the one who needs to be chastened.

  2. Andrew Says:

    Honest question, is it at all professional for Darbyshire to be giving legal advice on something she has no experience in? Things really started making sense when I realized they didn’t have a practising lawyer on retainer.

eXTReMe Tracker